The very first case of COVID-19 in Singapore was detected on 23 January 2020. Since then, the numbers have grown exponentially and to date, Singapore has seen over 20,000 cases of COVID-19.
As a result, the government has introduced a series of stringent measures called ‘Circuit Breaker’ to be applied from 7 April to 2 June 2020, meant to help stem the spread of the virus in the community.
During this COVID-19 circuit breaker period, your children have had to stay home in this unprecedented isolation period.
Staying home 24//7 is difficult for adults, what more for children – especially when we are used to our social lives outside of home. Our kids have had to adjust to having lessons at home with their friends on a screen, being stuck at home all the time, wearing a mask when they head out and listening to the news broadcast about COVID-19 all the time.
What lessons have our children learnt from this experience?
Important Lessons to Learn from the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker
1. The importance of hygiene to reduce spread of COVID-19
There is nothing that makes hygiene become the most important thing in one’s life than a pandemic like the coronavirus in Singapore. Children are inundated with plenty of visuals and adults telling them how they should keep their hands clean. They are told that by washing their hands regularly, the risks of catching the COVID-19 virus is lowered.
During the Circuit Breaker period, children above the age of 2 are required to wear a mask if they choose to step out of the house for a breather. That is a challenging task as children are just not used to wearing a mask.
Other than washing their hands frequently, children are also taught to cough into their elbows to prevent their hands from being contaminated by their germs. These are good habits to inculcate at a young age.
Whether it is to stem the spread of coronavirus in Singapore or to minimise the spread of other viruses, these practices would leave an indelible impression on your children on the importance of being hygienic.
2. How viruses spread
There are plenty of good online resources for children to talk about how the coronavirus is spread.
Several websites have featured books on the topic:
- The Nosy Crow (free)
- Julia Donaldson (free)
- COVID-19 for Kids (paid)
- How To Explain COVID-19 To Children (free)
Using the available resources that address coronavirus specifically, and the need to stay home to minimise the spread, allows children to understand the whole circuit breaker in Singapore. Your children will relate better when it is explained in an interesting manner.
Books are also less intimidating than the news or radio broadcasts. The cute visuals can help them to build a mental image in their heads as they internalise the information on the spread of the coronavirus in Singapore.
3. Online safety during the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker
Home-based learning (HBL) was implemented at the start of the COVID-19 circuit breaker so that students can continue their education while schools are closed. Most, if not all, schools have moved their learning to various online platforms.
Some schools have even initiated ‘live’ lessons to check in on their students and to conduct lessons via the webcam. For young children to be so heavily involved with online learning, parents are naturally concerned about their cyber safety.
During this period of HBL, children would have been taught cyber etiquette. They learn to be respectful to their peers, keep their password safe from strangers, protect their personal information, and to conduct themselves appropriately in front of the web camera. These lessons are certainly not easy for a young child to grasp but with time, they get better at it.
Given that we are so reliant on technology now, there is no time better than now for them to practice online safety through HBL. This will hopefully translate to savvier young technology users in future.
4. Resilience to make it through a difficult period together
As anxiety levels kick in for us with the stress of managing the family’s finances as well as adapting to a new, uncharted world with the impending economic downturn, we must be mindful not to pass on that fear to our children. They are very perceptive towards our verbal and non-verbal cues and can notice our anxiety.
You may notice that your children echo the language that you use in your daily life – and more so now that we are enclosed in a small space together. Modify your language and reframe your responses to include acceptance, positivity and adaptability, providing them with a framework to grow a resilient attitude towards difficulties.
Children base their responses on the adults in their lives. When we provide them with a calm and assuring perspective towards the situation, we help them to build resilience in times of trouble.
5. Managing their boredom during the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker
Never has there been a moment in our lives where most Singaporeans are collectively working from home as well as managing their children’s HBL schedules. After their HBL is over, parents still need to consider occupying their children’s time so that they can continue with work.
The frustration is real when both parents and children are constantly on top of each other with unmet demands and needs. When it comes to boredom, this is a perfect opportunity for us to teach our children to manage their own time in independent play and learning.
What can they do when they are bored? Other than screen time, they can indulge in a bit of reading, drawing, crafting, or even just simply playing with the toys they have and create make-believe worlds. It is through boredom that the most creative minds begin to work.
You may find also that it is counterproductive to line up activity after activity for your children. Faced with a smorgasbord of options, children start to rely on parents entirely for the next programme and the next.
Instead, leave them to their own devices and provide them with open-ended toys and craft materials. It will take some time, but your kids will eventually learn how to engage themselves rather than waiting to be told what to do.
Remember – it is okay to be bored!
Online Resources for Home Learning
Now that the school holidays have officially begun, there is nowhere to go because we are still in the COVID-19 circuit breaker period.
Rather than mindlessly handing the device over to your children for them to explore without your supervision, look at these websites that can provide you with some educational resources for your children:
- 20 Free Online Resources To Keep Your Child Occupied
- 17 Free Learning Apps To Check Out For Your Child
- 8 Educational Chinese YouTube Videos
- 10 Educational Netflix Shows for Kids
- 10 Educational YouTube Channels for Kids
- Free E-Learning Resources for Kids
- 6 Easy Science Experiments for Housebound Kids
Perhaps these educational resources may help to alleviate some of that frustration you feel, trying to manage work and your bored children. Stay in, stay healthy and stay safe!
Written by Danielle Hee